It was the Emperor Meiji's restoration to the throne in 1868 that ushered in the long period of 'Enlightened Government' which saw thousands of Westerners crossing Japan's threshold to witness the country's modernisation.
For thirty years professionals, diplomats, traders, missionaries and globe-trotters introduced new possibilities to a nation that had long been isolated. Each visitor and resident experienced a different Japan during these exciting and progressive years: from the machinations of the merchants in the Yokohama hongs and the bear-worshipping rituals of the Ainu to the secret and cruel world of the courtesans of the Nightless City, to missionaries disappearing into the hinterland with bibles and bicycles and upper-class Japanese women dancing Viennese waltzes under the chandeliers of the Deer Cry Pavalion.
In The Coming of the Barbarians, also pubilshed by Faber Finds, Pat Barr wrote of the early years of Japan's contact with the West, painting the portrait of a society in transition: in The Deer Cry Pavilion the pace is accelerated as she describes a country hurtling through centuries of change in just a few decades.
Pat Barr was born in Norwich and read English at Birmingham University and University College, London. She lived in Japan for three years before returning to Britain, and The Coming of the Barbarians was her first book. This was followed by The Deer Cry Pavilion, A Curious Life for a Lady, To China With Love, The Memsahibs and Taming the Jungle. She then turned her hand to fiction with the immensely successful Chinese Alice, Uncut Jade and Kenjiro, all set in the nineteenth-century East.